If you have new Filipino family members or Pinoy friends, a great honour could be on the horizon. That privilege is being asked to be a godparent to a Filipino child. Continue reading to discover what it means to be a godparent in the Philippines.
What is a godparent?
In Christianity, a godparent is a person that bears witness to a child’s christening and later helps in their lifelong upbringing. A godparent will also usually take legal guardianship of the child if anything should happen to the parents. A popular non-religious alternative to a godparent is a “guideparent”, however, some people prefer the terms ‘mentor’ or ‘guardian’.
Alternatively, some modern families are increasingly adopting the term “oddparents”, consisting of a “fairy oddmother” and an “oddfather”. These new, progressive titles are typically used at naming ceremonies instead of baptisms or christenings.
Godparents in the Philippines
The Filipino terms ninong (godfather) and ninang (godmother) come from Hispanic customs – a byproduct of the Spanish Empire. In countries like the Philippines, the role of godparent takes on great significance. That’s because the honour comes with both spiritual and social obligations.
In Filipino society, a godparent’s social obligations to their ináanák (godchild) include sending money and aguinaldos (non-monetary gifts). That’s why Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) or people in positions of power are ideal choices for godparents. Far from financially motivated, choosing a godparent with high social standing is a great way to secure a child’s future should the worst happen.
Looking to send gifts to the Philippines? Great. Rather than sending multiple parcels home, use a balikbayan box instead. Learn more about these amazing boxes, including information about balikbayan companies in the UK.
What to do if you’re asked to be a ninong or ninang
Being asked to become a Filipino child’s godparent is such a huge privilege that most people tend to accept the offer. However, close friends or family members will often volunteer to become a ninong or ninang without being asked.
But not just anyone can be a godparent to a Pinoy child. The church has specific requirements for potential godparents. These include:
- Belonging to the same faith as the child.
- Being old enough to fulfil the duties of a secondary parent.
However in modern Filipino society, not all of these requirements are strictly followed.
Similarly, the church only ever allows two official sponsors, one male and one female, to bear witness at a christening. It is, however, unusual for a modern Filipino child to not have more than two godparents. Again, this is not sanctioned by the church but is very widely accepted culturally.
Choosing a godparent for your Filipino child
In addition to being close friends and family, your child’s godparents’ values should be a reflection of your own.
As godparents are second parents, then how you choose them should also reflect your values of parenting. Godparents shouldn’t just be material providers, but also caregivers, nurturers, disciplinarians, and teachers of morality.
Gifts ideas for your ináanák (godchild) in the Philippines
If you’re lacking inspiration, Azimo has you covered with these five gift ideas below. Send these presents to your godchild at Christmas, on their birthday or in time for a national holiday in the Philippines.
- Sungka – A popular game known to improve mathematical thinking and observational skills. The oblong game board consists of two rows of seven small pits. Sungka is similar to the American game Kalah, the inspiration for the Nokia 3310 game Bantumi.
- Remote-controlled toys – From pickup trucks to helicopters, what childhood is complete without endless hours of reckless manoeuvring?
- A new, bigger Christmas stocking – Filipino children place their Christmas stockings outside their homes rather than by a fireplace or under the Christmas tree. Pinoy kids perform this ritual every December to receive pamamasko – a collection of mini gifts.
- A musical instrument – If your godchild has a gift for music, why not help them along their way? Even better, if they’ve taken to traditional Filipino music, there are incredible instruments like the Kutiyapi (a stringed wooden lute) and a buktot (a four-stringed guitar) that are enjoying a return to popularity.
- Sweets – Chocolates, lollipops, fudge, chewing gum, etc. All kids love sweets, especially those that you can’t get in the Philippines. Whatever you send to your ináanák, always add treats inside to sweeten the package.